Definition of a FIRST Mentor

I’m presently putting together a presentation trying to get people to step up and help mentor a team. Looking for a a good definition of “FIRST Mentor”. What would your definition of a FIRST Mentor be?

I remember in 2008 there was a promo video that siad “Volunteer + Love = Mentor”.

My personal definition of Mentor is “a professional that works in a job and assists students with a project related to their line of work.”

Mechanic helping to build the robot
Writer helping with chairman essay
Chef helping prepare meals
Cheerleader getting students active in the stands
The list goes on

To me a FIRST mentor is a person who lives up to the expectations of FIRST. They inspire and recognise all the students efforts. They encourage when needed. They help the students design, build, test, write, draw, program, etc. The thing that defines a FIRST mentor vs. any other type, is that they put the students FIRST (pun intended:] ) and show GP in everything they do.

A true mentor is somewhere between a coach, a teacher, a parent, and a friend. He/she is a person who their students look up to for help and advice. They are someone who can show a student their potential and inspire that student to prove them right.

A mentor-to-be however probably would find that a bit of a high bar to reach. I’ll have to work on a less-daunting-but-still-true definition.

The description I like the best is to be the guardrails on the road the students drive the team along.

I agree with that person in that I always want to encourage the students to take the reins and test themselves. I want them to learn by doing and hopefully learn when to ask for help.

However, as that other mentor pointed out, when $10,000 to $50,000 of student/sponsor money is being spent, instead of letting them learn by catastrophically failing (i.e. driving the car into the ditch), mentors supply the guardrails that put them back on course when they stray dangerously far afield.

The guardrails need to be close together when the team is learning something new or putting something valuable/important at risk. They need to be far apart when the students are following the right processes and are managing themselves well (inexperience might lead to sketchy/imperfect outcomes, but attentive students’ learning/efforts are leading to improvements)

In summary, my take on “Mentors are the guardrails”

  • Show the students how to do what they need to do
  • Step back and let the students do what they need to do
  • Nudge them back on course when they need a nudge
  • Insist, when necessary, that no one tries to juggle the chainsaws


This is a thread started by Mark McLeod and it has a lot of insight and some humor. He created a white paper containing the information.

(Mark also created a thread titled, A Student Is…. It gives additional and valuable insight.)

I thought perhaps you would enjoy the read. :slight_smile:
Good luck with your presentation. It is a worthwhile endeavor.


A mentor isn’t afraid to show excitement about problem solving. That’s leading by example while inspiring.

Description on

FIRSt Mentoring Guide:

The volunteer office also wrote a description of a mentor last summer that was supposed to go out to new mentors when they registered. I haven’t seen the finished product, but you could inquire.

I’d say the volunteer who guides the student to the well of opportunities that refuses to run dry, that is FRC.


I’m quoting from what I wrote up(with some help) years ago for the Team(1089) I mentor and it’s posted on our web site… This iswhat we call our Mentor Mission Statement

The role and objective of a mentor is to inspire students to create, evolve and grow through use of science and technology. By doing so, mentors strive to help students become more than they already are. Mentors teach and guide students in communication, teamwork, and marketing, as well as designing, building, and operating a robot. They also impart life skills that will serve the students not only today and within the confines of FIRST Robotics, but throughout their entire life and professional career.

One mentor goal is to actively share wisdom and knowledge with the students to foster intellectual growth. A mentor exists to coach, teach, and observe students while remaining ready to step in as needed. He or She is expected to facilitate instruction and allow students to do the majority of the work. It is the job of the mentor to nurture the students and create an environment to facilitate the greatest student achievement. A mentor facilitates opportunities for fund raising and community outreach, promoting and spreading the message of FIRST in both team activities and outside engagements.

It is also important for the mentor to provide an atmosphere of open communication and trust where the students are empowered to think creatively, independently, and voice their opinions. A mentor is expected to show trust and respect to every student, while fostering the same trust and respect in themselves. They are expected to be positive role models for students and provide that model through example, as well as strive to maintain a positive attitude and optimistic outlook at all times. As a result, a mentor will have a profoundly positive impact on the students, the schools, and the community.

This is a brilliant post :wink:
Quoted just for how good it is :wink:

When it all hits the fan the mentor is the guy handing out the raincoats and goggles.

Personally I would give this description.

FIRST Mentor - An individual of no particular skill-set who wishes to inspire young students to believe in themselves and strive to be something in life.